By William Hernandez
It has been awhile since the East Los Angeles College Athletic Department has accomplished as much all-around success as they have in 2014.
When the regular season concluded for spring sports last month, ELAC had seven teams competing in the California Community College Athletic Association postseason including the swim and dive team and track and field men’s and women’s teams.
“From top to bottom its probably been the most successful season we have ever had since I have been associated with this school and that goes back to 1989,” ELAC Athletic Director Al Cone said.
Four out of the eight teams that competed during the spring and winter semester (badminton, baseball, men’s basketball and softball) finished atop the South Coast Conference in their respective sports.
“I am so proud of what our student athletes have accomplished. I always knew that we had good enough coaches, but when the kids become the main priority, this kind of success will always happen,” Cone said.
With the recent athletic upswing, the Huskies are a durable program and could be here to stay.
It’s apparent with all the ongoing construction and renovations, that the bar has been raised for ELAC as a college
“It feels so cool to hear people say so many good things about us at so many different meetings. Instead of hearing: ‘Why do we have athletics?’” Cone said.
The men’s basketball team accomplished something they haven’t won in 42 years. They conquered the 2014 SCC title and hosted a home playoff game against Citrus College. Citrus defeated ELAC 86-81, Feb. 28 in a competitive double overtime thriller.
“It’s exciting to see the guys put the effort in and work hard to accomplish their goals. The goal is to make sure these guys move on and matriculate to play at the next level,” John Mosley, ELAC men’s basketball head coach, said.
“We take the Pete Carroll philosophy and say ‘win forever.’ If they continue to win in everything they do, on and off the court, it will pay off for them, being able to move on to the four-year (university),” Mosley said.
On the diamond, ELAC’s baseball and softball teams broke-out onto the scene with fast starts. The baseball team recorded a 25-15 overall record and ended 15-6 in the SCC.
Both teams tied for first place in the SCC and both teams lost first-round games in the CCCAA playoffs. “It’s never happened before where we had both teams win their league in the same year. The coaches did a hell of a job, and the players bought into what they said,” Cone said.
The softball team finished the regular season 29-9 overall, behind the stellar pitching of CCCAA Pitcher of the Year Alashanee Medina and the excellent coaching job done by SCC Coach of the Year Erika Blanco and her assistant coaching staff.
“I knew starting in January that this was going to be a special year. They are very mature and athletically one of the most talented teams I have ever had,” Blanco said.
For the past five years, the ELAC women’s badminton team has finished behind SCC rival Pasadena City College. Both teams tied for the SCC title in 2013. This year ELAC won the SCC title outright and won all of their conference games (12-0).
At the CCCAA track and field championships, Laura Aceves finished first in both the steeplechase and the 10,000-meter runs. ELAC almost made a clean-sweep in both steeplechase events. Gonzalo Ceja finished third in the men’s steeplechase, 9:33.06 minutes. “He was in the lead with a lap-and-a-half to go,” ELAC track and field Head Coach Louis Ramirez said.
Two swim and dive team freshmen received nine All-American status awards this semester. Alice Fei Zhang received seven awards and Wenning Shen two. Zhang won three medals, one silver, at the 2014 Swim & Dive State Championships held at ELAC’s Swim Stadium.
The ELAC sports teams had a season to remember. Outside the lines, they were working hard at maintaining good academic standings, giving back to the community and for the sophomores, moving on to the next level of four-year universities.
But rest assured, this will not be a one-hit wonder for the Husky sports teams. According to Cone, the Athletic Department has the proper system in place to maintain the success and recognition that the Huskies established in 2014.